Perse pupils make a splash on Sweden canoeing trip
Year 11 pupil Athene Robertson gives an account of the PES canoeing expedition to Sweden.
The second trip to Sweden began with a night spent in the OPC and there was obvious excitement for the upcoming trip, but an early rise of 3.30am came as a shock.
The abundance of trees and lakes is what many would say struck them first about Sweden, and a long drive took us to the small town of Ed.
We slept in communal tents for the first night and for many of us, we had our first swim in the lake, jumping off the pontoon into the icy water.
After swearing we wouldn’t do anything like it again, we were consoled with the knowledge that the water would be warmer elsewhere in the lake and this was the coldest part.
The next morning, a two-hour bus trip took us to our starting position more than 30km away.
We loaded our canoes and pushed off. The wind was against us however, and in order to continue with little delay, we were organised into rafts – two canoes held together by a wooden pole tied between them, making them less likely to capsize.
Despite this however, after turning the corner of the lake to double back on ourselves, the wind was with us and the afternoon became a heated competition as to who could sail, using a tarp held by the two people at the front, the fastest to the first island, Trollen.
At Trollen, we stayed two nights. It was a large island with each group having their own campsites all the way across.
The most memorable feature of Trollen was the fact that half of the island was in Sweden, and half in Norway. It was certainly odd to think that you were crossing boarders just to see friends.
On the Saturday, the group made its way to Tronsalmana, Tronsalmana was a favourite for many on the trip as it was two smaller islands joined together by a strip of land – the teachers would sleep on one island and the students the other.
The morning of the final long canoe trip to Skotten dawned and unfortunately the wind was not with us.
Ten hours of canoeing with two hours of break in total will be one of the most memorable days for many of the students.
This was mainly due to the overwhelming sense of achievement everyone felt as we got to Skotten after a full-on day filled with snacks, blisters, snapped paddles and raucous singing.
On the second day on Skotten, we canoed to a sheltered section at the side of the lake and what was meant to be relaxed exercises ended up as a highly competitive race where the fastest raft to fill up with water and then race to the finish line won.
Our raft took pride in the knowledge that the first race we won involved us sinking our canoes!
Beginning the final trip from Skotten to Ed, all the rafts put up their sales as we had a tailwind and we stopped halfway to take a troop photo and arrived in time for lunch.
Sweden has been recounted to us over the years as the best trip PES offers and I know that the students on this year’s trip will say the same to the younger years – the final Thai buffet ended things perfectly.
I would like to thank all of the staff on behalf of the students, for a fantastic trip. Particular thanks to Jim and Paul who coached us in canoeing from start to finish and who provided valuable information about our surroundings.